Tata Steel launches JV in Oman

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Dubai, Jan 17 (UNI) Tata Steel has signed an agreement with Oman's Al Bahja Group to set up a joint venture company to explore and develop the Uyun limestone deposits in Salalah in the south of the Sultanate.

''The Indian company will hold 70 per cent stake in the joint venture named Al Rimal Minerals. It will develop and operate the Uyun mine,'' Managing Director of Tata Steel B Muthuraman said in Muscat yesterday.

He announced that the venture will be started with an initial investment of one million dollars. ''In the next three to four years we expect to produce 10 million tonnes of limestone from the mines and that the total investments could increase to 150 million dollar,'' he added.

Al Bahja Group chairman Ajit Hamlai termed the agreement ''just the beginning'', the Gulf News reported. ''This is the first step in the direction of exploiting the vast wealth of minerals in our country,'' said the naturalised Omani citizen and a leading businessman in Oman.

Mr Muthuraman added, ''More such projects could come to Oman if we see potential then we could even open steel plants in future.'' For the moment, he said, all the limestone taken out of the mines in Salalah would be used by Tata Steel in India. ''We currently use limestone from India but the deposits here seem to be of higher quality and whatever comes here can be used by us,'' he added.

He stressed that Tata Steel's motto was to care for the society and environment. He said over 1000 new jobs will be created and all the employees will be Omanis, except a few experts. The Omanis will also be trained by Tata Steel at its training centres. UNI XC SZ DB1054

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